Debate “Fact Checker” Ignores the Real Facts About Common Core

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

The day after the confirmation of New York Common Core enforcer John King as U.S. Secretary of Education has brought about a flurry of commentary about Common Core and the election.

The most parallel-universe analysis comes from Michelle Ye Hee Lee at The Washington Post, who “fact checks” Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and John Kasich on their statements on Common Core during last Thursday’s debate. Lee sets the stage for her mistaken discussion by swallowing whole the Common Core talking points — the national standards were “crafted by a bipartisan group of governors and state school chiefs representing most states,” states and localities control the curriculum, and the Obama administration appropriately used the Race to the Top (RttT) program as an incentive for states to adopt the standards.

Taking the last point first, Lee hammers Cruz — the only of these three candidates who has accurately explained the role of RttT — for claiming abuse of federal power through that program. She acknowledges that the RttT incentives to adopt Common Core were substantial, but she still claims the decision was completely voluntary.

Her analysis misses the mark in two ways. First, her claim of “voluntariness” is tenuous — in a time of deep recession, states grabbed at the “free” federal money tied to Common Core because they felt they had no other choice. Second, the RttT program especially could be characterized as an abuse of federal power because, unlike with some other federal incentive programs, the federal government has no appropriate role in education to begin with. Continue Reading

Big Brother Wants to Be “Engaged” with Your Family. Here’s How . . .

Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington, DC (photo credit: IIP Photo Archive via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

As the pro-Common Core Republican candidates get winnowed out, the remaining combatants should be quizzed in greater detail about federal education policy — particularly, the many troubling provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

We’ve recently written about the Big Brother aspects of ESSA, including “21st-century community learning centers” and “full-service community schools.” (See here and here to learn how your House member and senators voted.) Part of the intrusion into parental rights is cloaked under the benign term “family engagement.” If you think that means encouraging parents to attend PTA meetings, think again.

The family-engagement provisions of ESSA begin on p. 580 of the 1,061-page “conservative” bill (as an aside, any bill that has 1,061 pages is by definition not conservative). The goal is to fund “systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement” (pp. 580-81). State plans should coordinate federal, state, and local services so that families can be subject to one mammoth bureaucracy rather than just a piddling local busybody.

This bureaucracy is to take the form of a “statewide infrastructure for family engagement in education” (p. 584). The first task for this infrastructure is to “determine parental needs and the best means for delivery of services to address such needs” (p. 587). Apparently, it didn’t occur to Congress that parents’ primary need may be for government to go away and leave them alone. Continue Reading

How a GOP Congress Quietly Imposed Common Core on the Entire Country

Photo credit: Michael Bentley via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After a long absence, education policy has reclaimed a prominent role in the national and state campaign discourse.   What’s more, parents — not a particular party or candidate — are driving the debate. For their part, the GOP presidential candidates are struggling to grasp what’s going on. Apparently, understanding that numerous governors and ex-governors (e.g., Mike Pence, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush) doomed their presidential aspirations by failing to push back against Common Core and the federal government, these candidates now routinely denounce Common Core in their stump speeches. But do they really understand how federal law continues to promote Common Core? Do they understand the fight?

As we’ve reported, just-resigned Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went public after the passage of the mammoth Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to crow about how he and the Obama administration got everything they wanted by conspiring with Republican leadership. (See here and here to find out how your House member and senators voted on ESSA.) Duncan especially lauded the federal mandate for “high standards,” which is federal/progressive code for Common Core.

But doesn’t ESSA, as all the bamboozled congressmen insist, bar the Secretary from mandating Common Core? True, some provisions purport to do that. But as Duncan chuckled in a separate interview, those provisions are merely “surface-y soundbites” rather than substantive restrictions on federal power.

Within the other 1,060 pages of ESSA lurk the provisions that will put downward pressure on states to keep Common Core, or something that looks very much like Common Core. Continue Reading

Tampa Bay Times Examines Rubio’s Involvement in Common Core

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times discussed Common Core’s role in the campaign of the two Florida presidential candidates, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. The article, titled “Rubio may oppose Common Core but has supported the ideas behind it,” lists several ways that Marco Rubio has supported the components of the Common Core system:

…while Rubio never advocated for Common Core, he was a proponent of the building blocks.

Bush on Thursday noted that Rubio had supported Race to the Top, the federal program that incentivized states to adopt Common Core.

I think that’s a good idea,” Rubio said in 2009. He did stress, however, that he felt “education is a state function, best regulated and governed at the state level.”

That year Rubio also praised Obama’s hire of Arne Duncan as education secretary, calling him an “innovator” while praising the federal government’s effort “encouraging” states to adopt curriculums “that reflect the 21st Century.”

Rubio’s 100 Ideas book, a template for his tenure as House speaker, endorsed ideas such as more testing and a revamped curriculum. Idea No. 2 called for Florida to “systematically and sequentially replace the Sunshine State Standards with a new, world-class curriculum comparable to those found in the leading education systems in the world.”

As Gary Fineout of The Associated Press pointed out Thursday, Rubio never asked state officials or Gov. Scott to stop Common Core from being adopted in Florida. (Amid the backlash, the state has simply whitewashed the words Common Core from official policy.) [See also Even Mainstream Media Question Scott’s Statements about Being Out of Common Core]

Obviously, Race to the Top and Arne Duncan were the means the Obama administration used to impose and spread the Common Core that was aided by Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education, as Rubio correctly pointed out. Continue Reading

Six Reasons Jeb’s Plan Fails to End Federal Tyranny in Education

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush released his education plan on January 18th.  In it, he tries hard to sound like he cares about and supports local control and parental autonomy. In fact, the document, on pre-K through grade 12 issues, is merely a kinder, gentler form of federal tyranny that continues unconstitutional government involvement in pre-K, high stakes testing, data mining, and K-12 education in general. The plan fails on multiple important fronts:

1.) Federal Involvement in Education

Since its creation in 1979, the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) has done untold damage to academic excellence, state sovereignty, and parental rights. At least $2 trillion have been spent with no improvement in academic achievement. 

Source: Cato Institute


The US DOE needs to be eliminated as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have called for and, in Paul’s case, have written legislation to accomplish. Bush’s plan does not attempt to do that, but rather lauds “…the limited, but critical role of the federal government to create the conditions necessary for every child to graduate from high school prepared for the demands of college or the workplace.” The federal government has NO constitutional authority to be involved in the education and career plans of American citizens, and its efforts to do so have been an abysmal failure.

Bush has taken credit for the disastrous and tyrannical Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and his document lauds its alleged “recent restoration of state control over accountability decisions” and is under the delusion that “as the newly reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act reinforces, states need to be held accountable for serving their citizens, not federal bureaucrats.”

First of all, ESSA was a bill that had 100 percent Democrat support with more Democrat votes than Republican — Democrats being the party that has given us Race to the Top, NCLB Waivers, Obamacare and federal funds for Planned Parenthood and other big government disasters. Continue Reading

Dear Moms and Dads: Big Brother Is About to Join the Family

Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington, DC (photo credit: IIP Photo Archive via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump are making noise against the Common Core and the Democrats’ support for it. But have they looked at the gift the GOP-controlled Congress just gave the progressive movement? The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) just laid the groundwork for a federal takeover of basic, deeply personal functions of the family.

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan is excited about the many gifts the Republican Congress tucked into the Every Student Succeeds Act (see here and here to learn how your House member and senators voted). Among the bill’s progressive delights is the expansion of government schools and other organizations to usurp parents’ rights and responsibilities in practically every aspect of their children’s lives.

Duncan is a fan of schools’ mission creep: “I think our schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day,” he said in a 2010 interview. “It’s not just lengthening the school day, but offering a wide variety of after-school activities: drama, arts, sports, chess, debate, academic enrichment, programs for parents, GED, ESL, family literacy nights, potluck dinners.”

With ESSA’s programs to promote “21st-century community learning centers” and “full-service community schools,” Duncan gets his wish and more. These programs are designed to replace parents, family, church, and other private associations with the suffocating ministrations of all-wise, all-powerful Government.

Take first the 21st-century community learning centers (CLCs). Continue Reading

Cruz Vows to Undo Common Core on Day One

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Cruz imagines a pretty busy first day in office:

Cruz, a Texas U.S. senator running for the Republican nomination, said he would spend his first day in office undoing “illegal and unconstitutional” executive orders by President Barack Obama, order the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation of Planned Parenthood and “rip to shreds” the recent agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons. He told this to a crowd when campaigning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to the Advocate, the newspaper there.

“Under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons,” he said.

Cruz said the U.S. Department of Education should be abolished and Common Core “ends today” if he wins. He also made a passionate appeal on behalf of gun rights.

But he’s going to have to take on the dysfunction in Congress and repeal the federal control over state education standards in the GOP-passed education bill re-named ESSA. Here’s hoping he gets the message.

Who will take on the Washington dysfunction of the Republicans, not just the Democrats?

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

The Fight Over Common Core Ain’t Over Yet

This piece was co-authored by Jane Robbins, an attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project.

Photo credit: Terrapin Flyer via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The passage of the new No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act) hasn’t ended and, in fact, will intensify education debates in this country. In the coming months, we’ll see whether the state legislature leaders and governors like Doug Ducey (AZ), Pat McCrory (NC), Charlie Baker (MA), Asa Hutchinson (AR), John Bel Edwards (LA), Andrew M. Cuomo (NY), Earl Ray Tomblin (WV), and Matt Bevin (KY) fight on behalf of citizenry, or whether they spiral into disrepute like Jeb Bush and Governors John Kasich (OH), Mike Pence (IN), Scott Walker (WI), and Rick Scott (FL).

The issue on deck is the Common Core — a bellwether of gubernatorial trustworthiness and competence. In state after state, governors have bungled the Common Core issue and in so doing have broken faith with their constituents. Just as their brethren in Congress have done, they have catered to the political gadfly class — the parade of party apparatchiks and special interests (especially wealthy foundations and educational-industrial complex donors). They worry about backlash from the crony “capitalists” – those business interests who use government to gain advantage over citizens, smaller competitors, and businesses disfavored by elitists. They listen to the media, and fail to understand the concerns of citizens. Or they simply lack the courage and wisdom to fight for citizens against powerful interests.

Common Core is a bellwether because the standards are demonstrably and fatally defective.

Continue Reading

Former Obama Administration Aide Boasts GOP-Passed Bill (ESSA) Cements Common Core

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Breitbart reports that another voice from the Left has entered the conversation about the recently rammed-through Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This time, the commentary comes from Peter Cunningham, former U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Communications. Cunningham confirms what recent Education Secretary Arne Duncan said about ESSA — that the messaging from bill’s primary author, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is, shall we say, misleading when he claims that ESSA eliminates the federal mandate for the Common Core national standards.

According to Cunningham, “[T]he new law that the senator from Tennessee is so proud of . . . now mandates the very thing he rails against.” Cunningham explains: “Under the new law, every state must adopt ‘college- and career-ready’ standards. Thus, the new law all but guarantees that Common Core State Standards – or a reasonable imitation under a different name – will likely remain in place in most states.”

Of course. This is what the national anti-Common Core grassroots movement tried to tell Republican members of Congress for months before they voted on ESSA (without having analyzed or even read it, because the Republican leadership didn’t allow time for that).

And if these hundreds of activist groups could read ESSA and see that it essentially cements Common Core, one would expect Alexander — a former Education Secretary fluent in edu-speak code language — to realize that as well. Did Alexander mischaracterize his bill to fool congressmen into passing it? Or was he simply negligent as to the bill’s contents? Continue Reading

Our Top 10 Posts of 2015

We had a great year at Thank you for being a consistent reader.

Here were our top 10 most popular posts (ranked in order by unique page views) on this year:

10.) “Rand Paul Just Destroyed the Democrats On Abortion

Sen. Rand Paul (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

April 8, 2015 By: Jon Schweppe

Wow. Senator Rand Paul just gave the best answer on abortion I’ve ever seen—a complete home run.

Pro-abortionists love to force pro-life candidates to be very specific on abortion, and the media is often their willing accomplice. The media will happily force pro-life candidates to explain which exceptions they support, which they don’t, and generally just flummox them into eventually giving up on defending their position altogether outside of a vague declaration of being pro-life. After all, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.

This has been a frustrating trend to watch. Republicans have generally avoided the issue altogether, while Democrats continue to radicalize and become bolder in their pro-abortion ideology.

Abortion isn’t an issue on which conservatives need to be playing defense. Instead, we should be going on the attack and forcing liberals defend their radical views of supporting abortion without exception from the moment of conception to the moment of birth.

Enter Rand Paul.


Read more here.

9.) “Whoopi Goldberg Attacks Carly Fiorina: See Whoopi Fail!

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

June 17, 2015 By: Josh Pinho

Carly Fiorina recently appeared as a guest panelist on ABC’s “The View,” and was asked by co-host Whoopi Goldberg to respond to a loaded question on the topic of life.

Continue Reading